Probably one of the most significances advances in forensic technology evolved from one of the most significant tragedies of our history: the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City, 9/11. "After the terrorist strikes, 21,741 remains were recovered. So far, 11,989, or 55 percent, have been identified. More than 1,100 of New York's 2,750 victims have not been identified because many of the remains were too badly compromised by heat and time . . ." (Frasier). Today, years after the attack, identification of victims through DNA technology is still going on. Much of this work is being done at a private lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan called Gene Codes Corp. Gene Codes Corp's founder and CEO, Howard Cash calls his work, "the most important thing I'll ever do in my professional life" (Detroit Free Press). Cash's company has also worked to identify victims of the tsunami in Asia, and the London subway bombings. "Cash and his colleagues created software they called MFISys (pronounced EMPHASIS), for mass fatality identification, for the 9/11 project. It compared data from three types of DNA tests on 20,000 partial human remains to the DNA from more than 3,000 cheek swabs of victims' kin and 8,000 personal effects. They updated the software nearly 140 times . . ." (detroit free press). In June of 2008 another victim of the attack has been identified through remains recovered in the past two years in and around Ground Zero, according to the AP. "Examiners made the identification in the past two days after retesting remains from the original recovery effort following the attacks on the World Trade Center" (Frasier).
The use of forensic DNA technology is considered critical to the execution of justice in today's world. Both the science of DNA and the lens through which forensic science has been scrutinized have evolved since it was first used to identify a suspect in the rape and murder of two young women in Leicester, England in the mid 1980's (Presley, 1999). Soon after its landmark use in Europe, DNA technologies have become more sophisticated and more widely used in forensic settings in the United States, yet it was decades after its first admission in court that the laboratories responsible for the analysis of the evidence were accredited by a professional organization.
For these reasons, the use of DNA technology has been at the heart of the push for accreditation for all criminal forensic laboratories and while these practices became standard in the courtroom relatively early in their history, they were not without controversy. In fact, it was the controversy which initially led to the accreditation process.
In an article in the Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics, Paul Giannelli wrote about the 1989 Supreme Court case "People V. Castro". This case was one of the first to criticize DNA evidence as it was presented in court. What was successfully argued in this particular case was the " . . . DNA evidence testing laboratory failed in its responsibility to perform the accepted scientific techniques . . ." (Giannelli, 2006). It is important to note that the science of DNA technology was not called into question; it was the methods used by the laboratory that resulted in the conviction being overturned. Over half a century before the Castro case, another legal decision,